Fifteen years after the arrival of an anonymous postcard with the names of her maternal great-grandparents and their children?—?all killed at Auschwitz?—?Anne Berest is moved to discover who sent it and why and embarks on a journey to learn the fate of the Rabinovitch family. - (Baker & Taylor)
Winner of the Choix Goncourt Prize, Anne Berest’s The Postcard is a vivid portrait of twentieth-century Parisian intellectual and artistic life, an enthralling investigation into family secrets, and poignant tale of a Jewish family devastated by the Holocaust and partly restored through the power of storytelling.
January, 2003. Together with the usual holiday cards, an anonymous postcard is delivered to the Berest family home. On the front, a photo of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. On the back, the names of Anne Berest’s maternal great-grandparents, Ephraïm and Emma, and their children, Noémie and Jacques—all killed at Auschwitz.
Fifteen years after the postcard is delivered, Anne, the heroine of this novel, is moved to discover who sent it and why. Aided by her chain-smoking mother, family members, friends, associates, a private detective, a graphologist, and many others, she embarks on a journey to discover the fate of the Rabinovitch family: their flight from Russia following the revolution, their journey to Latvia, Palestine, and Paris. What emerges is a moving saga that shatters long-held certainties about Anne’s family, her country, and herself.
- (Perseus Publishing
Publishers Weekly Reviews
In Berest's phenomenal English-language debut novel (after the nonfiction work How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are), the author pieces together stories of her ancestors who were lost at Auschwitz. In 2003, when Anne is 24, her mother, Lélia, receives a cryptic postcard containing only the names of four relatives, all of whom died in the Holocaust. The postcard remains an enigma until 10 years later, when Anne, now pregnant and visiting her parents' house, decides she's ready to learn more about her roots. In flashbacks sparked by Lélia's stories, Berest builds a touching account of her great-grandparents Emma and Ephraïm Rabinovitz, whose names were on the postcard along with two of their children, and who had fled from four countries before settling in a Paris suburb in 1929. After France is invaded, Ephraïm's business is seized by the government along with his cookware patents, and the family is subjected to curfews and restrictions. Emma and Ephraïm are separated from two of their children, and the four are eventually taken to Auschwitz. With bracing prose, smoothly translated by Kover, Berest takes an unflinching look at antisemitism past and present ("And, I realized now, I was the same age as my mother and grandmother were when they were hit with the insults, the stones.... The pattern was undeniable"). The more Anne learns of her family, the more powerful her story of reclaiming her ancestry becomes. This is brilliant. (May)
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